December 17, 2017

ACME (1)

Acme Motor Car Co. (1903-1911)

Reading, Pennsylvania

This is an original Acme radiator script (c1906-1908)      sam
Size: 338mm wide

James C Reber was a bicycle manufacturer when he decided to produce motor cars. He made and sold a few Reber cars and in July 1903, he established the Acme Motor Car Company. The first cars sold were 16 hp two-cylinder touring cars but were still called Reber. The car name was changed to Acme for the 1904 model year, although the car itself was still the Reber.

Reber took on Victor Jakob from Mercedes in Germany as chief engineer and designer for the new Acme cars.  The first 30 hp four-cylinder Acme appeared in 1905 and was offered as a tonneau. For 1906, all Acme cars were four-cylinder models. The Acme was a well made good quality car and was later offered with a perpetual guarantee, although production numbers were not high. The Acme Motor Car Company suffered management problems and was in receivership in 1906 but production of the Acme continued. 

The assets of the company were bought by Herbert M Sternberg in 1907 and he brought in Robert E Graham as an officer of the company and Fred Van Tine as engineer and shop manager. Together this team continued production and development of the Acme.

The Acme was entered in many races and endurance events and achieved some praiseworthy results. In 1908, for example, Acme cars took part in the Vanderbilt Cup Race, a four-cylinder Type 19 Acme won the Wilkes-Barre hill climb, a six-cylinder Type 21 came a good third in the 360 mile Savannah Race and other Acme cars took part in races at Brighton Beach and Fairmount Park and elsewhere.

In 1910, the four-cylinder Acme became the Acme Model S.G.V. where the "S.G.V." name was made from the initials of Steinberg, Graham and Van Tine. In 1911, Steinberg, Graham and Van Tine bought out the Acme Motor Car Company and established the S.G.V. Company to produce the S.G.V. motor car (see SGV).


The first Acme cars in 1903 and 1904 did not have an emblem.

The Acme Motor Car Company did use a logo but there were several changes in the logo over the years. Initially, the car was called "Acme" and the Acme brochure for 1905 shows an Acme script logo on the cover, see below:

Acme brochure cover showing logo (1905)     sfam

A very similar logo was used in Acme advertisements in 1906, see example below:

This is an Acme advertisement showing an "Acme" logo (1906)   ms

The "Acme" logo on the 1905 brochure shown above was used as the brass radiator script, see original photo below. This "Acme" radiator script was certainly in use in 1906 but I suspect that it may have been used from 1905 but I cannot confirm this date.

Acme car showing the "Acme" radiator script (c1905)     tom

The logo changed to "The Acme" later in 1906 and continued to be used until early 1908 on some Acme models, see examples below.

The original photo of an Acme car with a brass "The Acme" radiator script shown below has the annotation "ca 1906" on the back of the photo:

This is an Acme car displaying "The Acme" radiator script (c1906)    dpl

The "The Acme" radiator script is clearly seen on the following original photo from the 1907 Glidden Tour:

Acme car showing "The Acme" radiator script (1907)  dpl

The original photo below shows an Acme car taking part in the Savannah Races in March 1908: 

Acme car showing the "The Acme" radiator script (March 1908)     ms

The "The Acme" radiator script shown above at the top of this post is original and is very rare.

The first Acme radiator emblem was a circular emblem and appeared in 1908, see examples below.

The original photo below shows an Acme car taken at Brighton Beach in September 1908:

Acme car showing a circular radiator emblem (September 1908)     dpl

The circular Acme radiator emblem is also seen in original photos taken in 1909.

The original photo below shows an Acme car at the start of the New York to Seattle Endurance Run in June 1909:

Acme car showing a circular radiator emblem (June 1909)     hfrc 

The original photo below shows an Acme car at the Brighton Beach Races in August 1909:

Acme car showing circular radiator emblem (August 1909)      dpl

The resolution and quality of early photos are often not good enough to confirm the detailed design of the emblem. However, very high resolution scans of original photos of Acme cars taken in 1908 and 1909 show clearly that the Acme radiator emblem displays "The Acme" script logo, Two of the clearest examples are shown below:

This is a close up of the Acme radiator emblem (1909)    dpl

This is a close-up of the Acme radiator emblem (c1909)     dpl

This Acme radiator emblem design is the same as the circular script logo illustrated on the cover of Acme brochures for 1909 and 1910, see below:

This is the Acme logo from an Acme brochure (1909)      hfrc

This radiator emblem was used on Acme cars from the latter part of 1908 through to early 1910. I assume that this Acme radiator emblem was finished in enamel but the actual size and colors are unknown. Original Acme radiator emblems with this design, if they can be found, would be ultra rare.

The following original photo shows a 1910 Acme with a radiator emblem of a different shape:

This is an Acme car showing a faceted radiator emblem (1910)    dpl

This is a close up showing the radiator emblem (1910)     dpl

The radiator emblem shown above was a red and blue enamel octagonal-shaped emblem with "S.G.V." across the center, see example below. This is the radiator emblem for the Acme Model S.G.V. introduced in 1910 and is extremely rare. This was the final Acme Motor Car Company radiator emblem before the company became the SGV Company in 1911.

This is an Acme SGV Model radiator emblem (1910-1911)     mjs
Size: 51mm wide 51mm high     MM: Keil

The following emblem is the Acme SGV Model hub emblem. This Acme hub emblem is very rare.

This is an Acme SGV Model hub emblem (1910-1911)    ms

Emblem Footnote (July 2018)

The circular Acme emblem shown below has often been proposed as an Acme car radiator emblem and is seen in auto emblem collections from the 1930's and is also included in the Smithsonian auto emblem collection. 

Acme emblem      mjs
Size: 63mm diameter    MM: Greenduck

I have always doubted that this emblem was from an Acme Motor Car Company car, because the eagle and wreath logo used in the emblem does not appear in any advertisements or brochures produced by the Acme Motor Car Company. 

Also, there is a keystone shaped Acme emblem, which has the same eagle and wreath trademark and has exactly the same design as seen in the central part of the circular Acme emblem, see example below. This emblem is clearly made for the same company as for the circular emblem but, although a circular radiator emblem is seen on original photos of Acme cars, there is absolutely no evidence of the keystone shaped emblem having been used on an Acme car.

This Acme emblem is clearly related to the emblem shown above   sam
Size: 77mm high 55mm wide    MM: Unknown

A recently completed detailed search of US trademarks (July 2018) has revealed that the eagle and wreath trademark was registered by the National-Acme Manufacturing Company of Cleveland, Ohio, makers of screw machines and slotting machines, in May 1908, see registration detail below:

This is the National-Acme Mfg Co. registration for the eagle & wreath trademark (1908)  ms

The circular Acme emblem with the eagle and wreath trademark was itself registered by the National-Acme Manufacturing Company in December 1913 as a trademark for metal-working and automatic multiple-spindle screw-machines, see below:

This is the National-Acme Mfg Co.registration for the circular eagle & wreath emblem (1913)  ms

The close-up view below of the circular emblem trademark registered by the National-Acme Manufacturing Company shows that it is identical to the emblem shown earlier and thus confirms without doubt that this emblem was not used by the Acme Motor Car Company.

This is a close-up view of the circular eagle and wreath emblem trademark (1913)  ms

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